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Achievements of blueberry growers recognised in M&S Select Farm Awards

Peter and Zoe Mee have been announced as the regional runners up in the Award for Excellence in this year’s M&S Select Farm Awards.

As a finalist in the Award for Excellence in England and Wales, the couple was recognised at the official M&S Select Farm Awards presentation on the M&S stand at this year’s Royal Welsh Show, during which they were praised for successfully incorporating blueberry production into their existing arable business.

Peter and Zoe own and manage Mee Farmers in the Nene Valley, Northamptonshire and only started growing blueberries four years ago, alongside their existing arable crops. They have now dedicated 15ha to growing British blueberries and grow five varieties of the fruit to maintain a steady supply to M&S. In a short time the couple has established a successful fruit growing business and has previously won the New Business of the Year category in the 2018 Horticulture Business Awards.

“What Zoe and Peter have achieved, in only a few years, really is impressive and is testament to their hard work and determination,” explains Janine Hatfield of Berry Gardens, who nominated the couple for the award. “Their business continues to develop, and for the 2019 season a new packhouse has been built to help maintain the freshness of picked blueberries and extend the shelf-life of the fruit for consumers.

“The couple has also gone to great efforts to minimise the environmental impact of their blueberry enterprise; maintaining 6m field margins around polytunnels, protecting hedgerows and protecting the natural habitat of local flora and fauna. Historically, blueberries have not been grown on a large scale in the UK, but, as demand for blueberries increases, Peter and Zoe are helping to reduce reliance on overseas fruit and reduce the carbon footprint of supplying blueberries to UK consumers.”

Steve McLean, Head of Agriculture and Fisheries at M&S, said: “Diversifying a business by growing a new and relatively uncommon crop is challenging, but clearly Peter and Zoe have made a huge success of their new enterprise. Whilst they are focused on producing high quality, domestically produced blueberries, it is also good to hear about their efforts to minimise the environmental impact of the blueberry business and work to help protect their local environment.”

As a regional runner up in the M&S Select Farm Awards, Peter and Zoe were presented with a certificate of achievement at an official awards presentation on the M&S stand during this year’s Royal Welsh Show.